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August 2011


The Debt

A new movie called "The Debt" is a remake of a movie which was a hit in Israel several years ago.

One of the joys of this job is to find a rare gem when I least expected to find such a jewel of a movie. The dog days of summer are some of the slowest of the year at the box-office and studios often save the best of their films for fall when talk of Oscar begins again, so I owe the makers of "The Debt" my thanks for a terrific time.

Back in the 1960's a trio of agents recruited by the Mossad in Israel meet in East Berlin to kidnap a former Nazi doctor-now working as a gynecologist.

Rachel Singer, played as a young woman by Jessica Chastain, poses  as his patient to get close enough to capture him. It is a plan made all   The more dramatic by the fact she is a holocaust survivor.

His abduction does not go smoothly and a plan to smuggle him out of East Berlin fails.

They're forced to bring evil home with them and when the forces of good appear to triumph early in the movie, you will wonder why it is  titled "The Debt."  But all is not as it seems which becomes clear when the film shifts back 'n forth between the mid 1960's and the late 90's.

Helen Mirren plays "Rachel" as an older woman. Tom Wilkinson is her ex-husband and the boss of the original mission.

The secret they kept from the world-and from all of us watching is what makes this movie so memorable.

A love triangle between the agents could be developed more fully, and the finale isn't as believable as the exciting chapters leading-up to it, but overall "the debt" offers payment in full for the price of a movie ticket.

This film has sat on the shelf for a year, caught in the crossfire of studio politics, but its arrival now is timely because usually there are no good, new movies to recommend at this time of year. "The Debt" is so good it just night make my list of the 10 best movies of the year.



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